Freedom of speech and expression

Unrestricted flow of information is the moral foundation of democracy. Without free flow of information, the functioning of society will start to deteriorate. For instance, if government starts controlling and censoring information, the democracy would soon turn to an autocracy and factors like corruption would start to prevail. The citizens would no longer be addressed as citizens instead they would be called servants.

Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees right to freedom of speech and expression. However, Article 19(2) of the Indian constitution also puts a reasonable restriction on the right to freedom of speech and expression.

In recent years the world has witnessed instances where government has tried to censor and control the flow of information, in some cases it was deemed necessary but in some it was clearly arbitrary. People have resorted violent steps in order to protest against these types of censoring, however most of them have forgotten that why these rights were made available to them in the first place. Many of them exercise this right as a tool to influence people into wrong activities or to incite violence.

Freedom of speech and expression is considered not just a human right but a fundamental human right, calling it fundamental has a deep meaning to it hence, the reasons behind calling it fundamental are:

Freedom speech and expression forms foundation for other rights

Freedom of speech and expression forms foundation for other human rights. It helps people to articulate opinion when their thought seems to differ. An effective media’s right to cover and report something is also possible because of this very right. Freedom of speech ranges from as minute as a conversation between two people to political campaigns by top politicians of a country.

Voice of minorities are not left unheard

It is seen that voice of minorities are often suppressed, to tackle this problem, right to freedom of speech and expression was introduced. By giving these rights to minorities we assure that their voices are not left unheard and they are not exposed to exploitation by the majority. This particular right allows these unpopular people in society to advocate their views along with the community to which they belong.

Informed citizens result in fairer elections

Freedom of speech and expression allows people to take informed decisions. And taking informed decisions is very important in a democracy. For instance, informed decisions are very important while choosing our leaders. Elections give huge amount of power to certain individuals, so choosing them wisely is very important.

Often, we see there are instances of rigging in elections. Many political parties engage in various types of malpractices. All of this comes in limelight because of freedom of speech and expression. Many political parties also influence people through hate speeches and false agendas which is very unhealthy for a democracy to function. Freedom of expression is regarded as a core value in democracy and this particular fundamental right checks these kinds of cases.

Free Press

In today’s scenario press is not only limited to newspapers or news channels on television, but it has extended to YouTube, Blogs, Twitter etc. Press can freely report in a country without restrictions is because of this very fundamental right. Press is the reason behind active participation of people in their respective communities. Through press people can access information regarding public interest and it allows them to keep themselves updated about recent events happening around them.

An independent press without any restrictions is a powerful one. Press can bring in scrutiny and criticize the current system of functioning whether it be a government or a private organization. However, if government starts censoring information, the quality of journalism might get reduced and we will find it very difficult to achieve a right balance between right and wrong. In countries where censorship laws are present and journalists try to report regardless of taking censorship into account, there is always a risk of fines, legal cases and even imprisonment in some cases.

Promotion of art, open criticism, and humour.

Freedom of speech and expression is not only limited to journalism. People often resort to steps like protests to criticize the government. The world has also witnessed rise of stand-up comedies, cartoons and theatre to mock steps taken by the government. Not censoring this, it promotes a vibrant culture and sense of unity. It also allows academic scholars to conduct their study with freedom for better understanding of their past, present and future. Promoting this kind of culture will allow artistic engagement from around the world.


Freedom of speech and expression

Dhruv Tomar


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